Speak with Stones

The Amate. If you look closely you can see Felipe sitting in the crouch, just to give you an idea of its size.

The Amate. If you look closely you can see Felipe sitting in the crouch, just to give you an idea of its size.

It’s been a rough year: illness and death, and, the just damn hard existence it is farming, and living in rural Mexico. I was looking at the “signs”, wondering… is it possible it’s time to leave? I like to believe there are signs, that life has a purpose and meaning and that if I’m present I’ll see the patterns and find my way. I totally believed that when I arrived in Mexico, it’s easier to believe when mostly life goes well. It’s more difficult to see meaning when you’re sick, broke, you lose your joy, and the place you love most in the world threatens your life.

Felipe gave up on the philosophy years ago. When I suggest an occurrence has a deeper significance, he replies, “I’ll think about that when I’m consistently able to feed us without worry.”  But, being the wonderful partner he is, also says, “If we need to leave, Abby, then we’ll go. There is nothing more important than your health. I’m not attached to anything here.”

A week ago I went home for a visit, to prepare Felipe to spend another week without me as he works full time and takes care for our farm and animals, alone. Amid the cooking and cleaning, I found time for a walk, not the same walk where I lost Lilly; still, it was into the wilderness. There, I felt joy for the first time in a long time. I went home and sat under my tree, I was breathing deeply with the help of new, more effective treatment.  I thought of this poem I wrote a couple of years ago, about some of the wondrous experiences I’ve had, and I knew this was still my home, here, beneath the Amate.

Speak with Stones by Abby Smith, Hear it Here!

 

Speak with Stones

“Do all stones speak?”
“No, only the ones that breathe.”
Blackfoot Physics, F. David Peat

 

I too have gone to live
In the woods
Nothing novel in that

There, I’ve sat at the feet
Of a turtle with the Buddha
On its back

I have climbed
The layers of water that ladder
To the sky

I’ve echoed a chant
Till the devils in me
Conceded to vibrate high

I’ve marveled in tears
As an eagle swept away
With my charge

I’ve dance in the fire of devotion
Then sifted the ashes
Of my own heart

I’ve gathered together
Pieces of the greatest warrior
I’ve ever known

I have stepped from the threshold
Hundreds of times without knowing
The depths below

I have gone to the woods
And I’m not coming back
Until I can speak with stones

Morning at the Piedra R ahada

Morning at the Piedra R ahada

For those of you who’ve followed this story and have genuine concern for my well-being, many practical measures are being employed to ensure my healthy long term return to the Piedra Rahada, I’m not relying on metaphor, signs, potions…well not entirely : )  Thank you all for your support and kind comments. Paz, Abby 

And a very special thanks to my friend Larry Prater, without whom, I truly would have lost hope.

 

Create Desire

 

Felipe's DawnI’m feeling a bit like Eve these days— cast out of the garden. Chronic pulmonary distress  has forced me to leave my home, the Piedra Rahada…until…

I’m staying with my exceptionally kind and generous friend Larry, at his lovely home and spa in Tepoztlan.  It’s a comfortable, beautiful and secure place to recover. Still, I miss caring for my dirty little concrete block house and my animal companions… following my paths…

The core of my wistfulness: I miss Felipe. We’ve spent too much time apart this year.

Beautiful Exile

It is this circumstance of gratitude and exile, meditation and longing, that make, Create Desire, by Karen Volkman, the song of my heart at present. Hear it here.

 

Proud Flesh

followed only by the plume of her tail

followed only by the plume of her tail

“In dark times, the eye begins to see.”

                                  Theodore Roethke

Shortly after I returned from the U.S., I set out with my dogs , Lilly and Moechi, on our favorite walk . The walk begins on a gravel thruway, turns into a farm road and ends in a mountain trail passable only on foot, or hoof. When I turned onto the trial I noticed Lilly wasn’t with us, I called her, and when she arrived she was shaking and foaming at the mouth. Somewhere in that remote and lovely landscape she’d found poison. She was dying.

I was memorizing Jane Hirshfield’s, For What Binds Us, as we walked.  I’ve had a very difficult time continuing with this poem, or even going for a walk since her death. But it is so appropriate, I wanted to share it. I admit I used a cheat sheet to make the video.

I’ve questioned my choice to allow my dogs to be free, since I’ve lost four in two years  to poison and disease.  I don’t know that the answer is sufficient or responsible, but, it’s because they are campo dogs. Freedom is their life.  I know, though not as safe, they are happier than the poor dogs I walked in the U.S. that spent hours in their crates every day.

Long ago, I decided my responsibility was to aid in the fulfillment of their daily lives, not the near impossible safeguarding of their future. After Elvis was implicated in the death of a calf and became a public enemy , I tried keeping him on a leash, watching him constantly if he wasn’t; I made him stay indoors at night (no one got a good night sleep). But it only took a rabbit sighting to send him deep into the woods if I wasn’t hyper-vigilant. Finally, I realized I could not watch my dogs all the time, and that even if I had a fenced in yard someone could and likely would throw poison over the fence again someday ; I could not protect them. So I let them live their lives, until it kills them.

I can imagine the look Lilly would have given me if I had tried to keep her on a lease for our walks. I’m sure she would have sat down in the dirt and refused to accompany me in such a degrading position, she was very good at getting her point across.

Good bye Little Bear…I will always save the heart for you…

 

I will return when I can feel that anything is very simple, very easy, or very good again.

 

 

 

Solitude

 

View from Calabera point, Piedra Rahada, Morelos, Mx.

View from Calabera point, Piedra Rahada, Morelos, Mx.

I’ve been in the U.S. for almost two months. During that time I’ve read little and written even less, I’m also behind in my memorization project. It makes sense; I’m visiting, I’m working.

For awhile, I enjoyed searching the internet for content and publishing some posts not related to pigs, or the idiosyncrasies of living in La Tigra. But suddenly nothing interests me, and the posts I prepared for this week sound bland. I don’t have back ups as I always do when I’m at home. I’ve used my stash of poetry videos.

Why the malaise?  I wanted to blame it on laugh tracks and advertising and fake news, cynical expat that I am. Then I read Jamie Lee Wallace’s post on Live to Write, Write to Live, and it made sense. I haven’t been alone for weeks. Alone for me is more than no one else in the house, it’s more like no one within miles. With no time to talk to myself(aloud), bounce ideas off my dog and submerge myself in multiple books, well, I just don’t have much to say.

I think I’ll look at as many interesting things as I can in this last week in the U.S., laugh with my mom and fully immerse myself in foods and wine I don’t usually have access to. I’ll be back when I can manage to memorize another poem, or the mountain air clears my head. Peace to you all. Abby